PURPOSE: To compare the visual outcome after surgical removal of subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (CNV) in patients younger and older than 50 years of age. METHODS: Patient records from all Swedish centers performing submacular CNV surgery were reviewed and 90 patients treated between 1992-1999 with a follow-up of 6 months or more were included. The results obtained in 49 patients aged 51-89 years (median=72 years) with neovascular disease caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD) were compared with the outcome of 41 patients aged 6-49 years (median=36 years) with CNV secondary to non-AMD causes. The main outcome measure was the improvement or deterioration in visual acuity (standardized in logMAR units) at 6 months following surgery. Secondary endpoints were recurrent CNV and surgical complications. RESULTS: The level of preoperative visual acuity was not significantly different between younger patients with CNV associated with non-AMD and older patients with visual loss due to AMD (p=0.069). However, visual acuity at 6 months after surgery was better (p=0.0042) in younger patients (median improvement=0.19 logMAR) than in older patients (median improvement=0.0 log MAR). Marked visual improvement (>1 log MAR unit) was seen in 29% of non-AMD patients 50 years. CONCLUSION: Surgical removal of submacular CNV does not appear to improve visual acuity in patients > 50 years of age. However, it may be beneficial for younger patients where a substantial improvement of visual acuity is seen in a subset of these patients. Further studies are required to assess the long-term outcome.